Tech and digital solutions continue to evolve and make learning beneficial.
This is a trend that’s not expected to change. In fact, many argue that with ever-changing student demographics, which include more and more non-traditional students who juggle their education with family and work life, online and digital learning is a trend that will only continue to grow.
With the advent of online learning, a number of students are now more able to easily access an education that might have previously been unavailable. But what might that look like as we move forward? How will technology and digital learning solutions continue to evolve and make digital learning a beneficial option?
Online Education Makes Higher Education Accessible to More Individuals
For those who have chosen the college path as non-traditional students, returning to college presents a number of logistical challenges, and also might carry more consequences should students not be successful.
With online learning, students may choose to complete their work asynchronously, meaning students are able to meet deadlines on their own time. This gives them the leeway they might need to prioritize other work and family-related matters, while also giving them the room to complete their school work.
Digital learning also gives students the opportunity to attend schools at a distance, something that they might not have been able to do outside of the digital age. In essence, the virtual world of the online campus allows non-traditional college students to still attend prestigious out-of-state schools, while still maintaining their home lives.
It’s an initiative that many learning institutions have fully recognized and embraced. A market exists for students who rely on education and technology that is digitally available to make learning faster, more responsive, portable, and overall more effective. Luckily, there are options for students of all backgrounds and ambitions, from those who want to pursue nursing, to those who are hoping to become wedding planners or automotive technicians.
Virtual Reality and Accessibility to Learning
Virtual and augmented reality are some of the most cutting edge forms of technology on the market today, and it’s likely that they’ll make a big difference in the educational sphere in years to come.
While they’re typically used in a video game or film-based platform, their application in learning has the potential to grow significantly, especially in the fields of medical training and physics.
But truthfully, virtual reality has a number of practical applications that can help students of all ages thrive.
Virtual reality can be used as a teaching tool that offers students opportunities to take field trips to places out of reach or out of budget, can allow students to better see constellations or fixtures in outer space, explore cells or parts of the human body in greater detail, or experience situations that might be considered dangerous without the risk of harm.
While these are exciting possibilities that may exist, VR learning also comes with some logistical challenges, many of which are cost-oriented. For universities and institutions with the means, however, VR technology will be a powerful tool in years to come.
Game-Based Learning and Motivation
Gamification has long been a tool used in the school setting. In essence, it is an educational approach to learning which helps to motivate students by using video game design and game elements. Not only do students typically enjoy these courses more, but they also tend to enjoy learning and retain more information from the experience.
As Forbes author Nick Morrison explains, “Gaming encourages many of the behaviours we want to see in our students, including curiosity and persistence. And tapping into those elements of game design that provoke almost superhuman levels of concentration can be a way to stimulate student engagement.”
If teachers and professors can learn how to harness this kind of technology to engage with and have enthusiastic student participation, gamification could be integral to learning as technology continues to develop.
Mobile Learning Accessibility
Cell phone and mobile technology have drastically improved over the past several decades, so it’s no surprise that it will play a large role in education.
For one, nearly every student has access to some kind of mobile device or tablet. The same cannot be said for reliable computers or laptops. In a similar regard, internet access isn’t necessarily always available to each student. Mobile phones are an accessible workaround to each of these issues.
It also provides a platform to participate in school-related materials in ways that sustain high levels of engagement and peer collaboration. Since most students use these tools in their day-to-day lives, it has the potential to become an effective arm in their educational toolbox.
Job Specific Training Through an Online Format
Other benefits technology can offer to students are job-specific skills that they can apply and take immediately to the workforce. Taking online courses not only gives students the necessary reading, writing, and critical thinking skills to find employment post graduation, but also gives them the necessary technical skills to perform well in the workplace. Students learn how to effectively communicate in an online platform, learn how to use various applications and skills that employers find valuable, and gain the skills to work independently from others while also working as a team in a remote setting.
Online learning formats often focus on teaching skills that are applicable to specific workplace environments, especially those in healthcare, technology, and digital media. This is important, especially for students who are returning to school as non-traditional students who rely on this training in order to perform the necessary functions of their job, or are hoping to advance in their career.
Devin prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zigzag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, though never in one place for long. You can follow him more reliably on Twitter.
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